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Lychee Panna Cotta with Homemade Basil Grappa
Chef Fabio Trabocchi of Maestro Restaurant — Washington, D.C.
Adapted by StarChefs

Yield: 4 servings


    For Lychee Panna Cotta
  • 1 ¾ cup whipped cream
  • 2 ½ cups Lychee puree
  • 4/5 cup sugar
  • 4 gelatin sheets

  • For Basil Grappa
  • 2 ½ cups Grappa
  • 4/5 cup sugar
  • 4/5 cup water
  • 40 basil leaves 2 oranges, zest only
  • 2 lemons, zest only

  • For Garnish
  • 8 basil leaves
  • 16 lychee fruits
  • 2 egg whites
  • Sugar for dusting


Prepare the Panna Cotta:
In a small bowl, soak the gelatin sheets in ice water. Using a spatula, fold the sugar into the whipped cream. Warm the mixture slightly by placing the bowl over gently simmering water for a few minutes. Strain the gelatin sheets from the ice water and absorb any excess water with a clean kitchen towel.

Fold the softened gelatin sheets into the warm cream/sugar mixture. Gently stir the mixture until the gelatin has completely incorporated. Pass the whole mixture through a fine sieve. Add the lychee puree and pour the mixture into 2 ½ inch diameter ramekins. Refrigerate for about 6 hours or until set.

Prepare the Basil Grappa:
In a small saucepan, warm up the water then remove it from the heat. Add the sugar and stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Add the orange and lemon zests. With your hands, tear the basil leaves and stalks and add to the saucepan. Add the Grappa and stir to combine. Place the entire mixture into a clean mason jar (one which closes with a clasp). Let the mixture steep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks. After 2 weeks, strain the mixture through a fine sieve making sure to press on the leaves to obtain the greatest amount of liquid.

Prepare the Garnish:
Preheat the oven to 230°F. In a metal bowl, whip the egg whites until they reach a firm meringue consistency. Place the sugar in a small bowl. Quickly dip the basil leaves into the egg whites and then into the sugar. Place the sugar coated basil leaves on a baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven until the leaves are crispy and dry.

To serve:
Garnish each panna cotta with a lychee fruit and a crystallized basil leaf. Pour the grappa into a carafe with fresh basil leaves. In front of your guests, pour the ice cold grappa into the panna cotta.